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Showing posts from October, 2011

Run for your lives...the Zombies are coming

I'll file this under the "I'm too old to understand" category.  Heard a report on the Running with the Pack podcast, about a recent Zombie Run 5K.  This is a new national race series, where you not only complete a 5K obstacle course but in addition, Zombies chase you and try to tear off your flag (akin to flag football):

Here's the slick promotional video that was produced for the series:

According to the podcast report, here's the humor element:  This promotional group had not put on a "race" prior to the first event in Darlington, Maryland...and it attracted 10,000 entrants. Chaos ensued, including hours-long traffic jams that all but shut down the race headquarters community. Assurances have been made that problems will be alleviated at future events.

In my master competitor mind, an attractive race used to mean a good course, ample aid stations and reliable timing and scoring.  Throw in a t-shirt and a bagel at the fin…

Mountain biking on the Overmountain Victory Trail

God dropped another gem on me today.  It was sunny and crisp so I busted out after church and drove over to Wilkesboro for another tour of the Overmountain and Shiner's Gap trails - my second mountain bike ride since blowing out my shoulder.

I found the Youtube video, posted above.  It's a three-minute opportunity to come along for the ride and experience my favorite place to be on Sunday afternoons.  I have a positive association with North Carolina fall and winter seasons; this year is no exception.  Bright sun, crisp air and color in the leaves.

So here's the set up:  Start the Overmountain Trail Youtube segment above; turn the sound to 0. Start the Youtube segment below, vintage James Taylor from 1972 singing "Carolina in my mind." Watch the  trail ride, listen to James.


Retro motocross racing: For men who play like boys

Here's a photo and shout out to master competitor reader David Campbell, who's getting ready to squirt some dirt with his pristine 1980 Honda CR250 Elsinore.

David plays hard and seems to have a never ending agenda for good times.  He likes to compete in master's events both on and off road...he's also active in club road racing.

I have enjoyed the resurgence of vintage motocross racing.  The equipment is not only fun to ride, it triggers memories from yesteryear, when I, for one, was a bit more courageous.  Who can forget the original silver-tanked Elsinores and the advent of MX super star Marty Smith?

Maybe it's the outcome of so many years gone by, but my recollection of those times is bigger than life.  Factory riders on their flying machines.

Thanks to individuals like David and others like him, who keep those dreams alive through retro MX racing.  You can't really know where you're going, unless you know where you've been.

Tempt me with hemp (protein)

I'm one of those individuals who loves Amazon shopping...with the hook being the over $25 free shipping.  I purchased "Academically Adrift" that we're reviewing for our faculty reading group and of course needed another bump in spending to make the $25 limit...that leads me to Tempt hemp protein.

I opened the container this morning to make a smoothie and was tempt(ed) to wash the entire batch down the garbage disposal.  The stuff looks like topsoil and smells like compost. I reticently added two scoops to my fruit and drink mix and blended.  The result was something parallel to pea soup.

One has to get past the color and gritty texture to "enjoy" the concoction.  I'm sure master man is getting major healthy by ingesting this high fiber organic protein source...but maybe I'm not quite ready to give up the white, frothy, vanilla shake taste I've been getting from my Naturade soy supplement.

Diversity is a good thing and this is surely a deviation …

"Kansas" rocks Appalachian State

It was good then, it's really good now. That's how the show went down last night when Kansas played with the Appalachian State University orchestra.

It pays to buy your ticket early; I got mine online weeks ago and ended up front and center, one row back.  Was 20 feet from stage and felt like I was part of the act.

The band took a charitable view in their current tour:  Sponsor D'addario (guitar strings) made a contribution to ASU's music department, while Kansas kicked back a large portion of their merchandise sales on the night.

I bought a couple of Kansas albums when I was a teenager.  Classics like "Carry on wayward son" and "Dust in the wind" age like fine wine.  I've been an amateur guitar player and have been doodling with the opening chords to Dust in the Wind for about 30 years.  To see Billy Greer (most often the bass player) pluck it out on a six-string was magic.

Here's a political statement:  In an era of economic uncertainty an…

Riding the snake revisited

Want to have a good time?  Here's the formula: Gather some of your best cycling friends, congregate them at the Food Lion in Mountain City, TN, and then bust out to re-ride the Surviving the Snake 100K in perfect fall weather.

Here's old master man to the right, pulling a pace line near the start of the route.  Thanks to top honcho Steve Lambert, who happens to be so good on a bike he can spin ahead and shoot shots like this over the top of his head!  I have enough trouble taking one hand off the bars to get the water bottle.

What's so special about this ride is the date; it's one day after the Cumberland Trail 50K.  It was pretty cool to have done the 50K and kept the legs fresh enough to climb the snake.  But that said, the ride to the top was grueling.  I was sputtering up near the crest and diverted my attention by watching the sport motorcycles racing the same section. Switchbacks forever...that's the snake.

The Boone riding crew is magic.  We have fun togethe…

2011 Cumberland Trail 50K race report

Life tasted sweet and rich on Saturday, when I was able to complete yet another Cumberland Trail 50K.

Let's start with what's most important: Race promoter Susan Donnelly, course marshal Rob Apple, and their exemplary crew of volunteers make this one of the best ultra runs in the USA.

That's a lot of praise, but everyone in this org deserves it.  Top notch from start to finish with a great course, excellent coddling before and after the race, and some of the best swag available (I got a tech t-shirt, coffee mug and fleece blanket).  That, on top of the 20 or so pizzas that are delivered at the finish, make this a must-do event.

I had the pleasure of running  the race with Wesley Fenton, Rob's best friend and accomplished ultrarunner.  Wes has been out for over two years with three injured discs in his back, and this was his comeback run.  We took it slow and easy and enjoyed every step.  Wes' back held up fine and we jogged in together for a 8:51 finish. For the f…

Nathan Trail Mix 4 is the best

I've had both love and hate affairs with hydration systems throughout my 28-year endurance sport endeavor. I've utilized hand bottles, single bottle packs, double bottle packs and bladder hydration systems in both waistpack and backpack style.

Ran the Cumberland Trail 50K today (more on that ASAP) and wore my new Nathan Trail Mix 4 bottle pack.

This is by far the most comfortable unit I have ever strapped on.  The elastic waist belt is fully adjustable and rides snug but not tight.  On several occasions, I actually forgot I had it on.

Weight distribution is excellent among the four (4) 10 ounce nutrition flasks.
Storage pack is small but ample for most needs.

This is one hot unit and I want to give Nathan a shout out for a fully functional design.

Adversity: How we handle the dark times

It's easy to cry in our own beer; a bit more difficult to focus on those around us who need our care and attention.  That was my thought on the day as I ran in a light rain this morning.  My body seems to be on the mend and I scored a late entry to the Cumberland Trail 50K this Saturday.  Not much to be pouting about in my life so I'll bring some attention on others.

My U of FL PhD classmate Wes fell 20 feet out of a coconut tree and shattered his heel.  Don't ask why he was in the tree; just understand he's a big guy and taking a fall like that could have been lights out for good.  Wes underwent major reconstructive surgery and now he's in a chair for a couple of months.  It will be a long road back, but the guy seems to be keeping his chin up with attitude intact.

While running I listened to an inspiring Competitor Radio podcast with Jamie Whitmore, a top triathlete who had been ravaged by cancer.  Her effervescent approach to life made me want to ramp up my own …

ChiRunning vs. McDougall vs. a string through my head

Things are coming along for the master man.  My shoulder is weird and drooped but healed - only residual seems to be ongoing itching but that's often a sign of healing.  My plantar foot is on and off but I said what the hay and starting running on it again.  Latest "cure" seems to be the Pro-Tec arch support, which cinches around the foot and positions a padded area up into the arch.  Took my 13 simulated wasp shots last Thursday, which in theory should build my resistance to yellow jacket hits.

That leaves me with...actually running again.  I've been sporadic for so many months it's strange to get a few day strung together.  But once the forward motion begins I quickly bring focus back on the foundation of the game...body stance and foot strike.

I'm a bit miffed at the moment, trying to sort through decades of head knowledge regarding running.  Five years ago, I became a big proponent of the ChiRunning program, where one carries the body in an erect pose and…

Frogurt is my addiction

There's good and bad news for master man and that news resides only two blocks from his living accommodations.

Some entrepreneural individual plopped (that's how it sounds dropping into the cup) a Frogurt franchise on the main drag.  I stopped tonight and mixed several options into the oversized catch container, paid my $5, and slurped it down.

Quite a mix of flavors - red velvet cake, tart vanilla, blueberry and cheescake.

It's not the sort of thing I want to get hooked on. Addictions can take root in a matter of days and this place could be trouble.  I can see myself stopping on all too regular occasion for a fix, then justifying the need to go back again later in the day.

Frogurt is nothing but trouble and it will soon be the winter weight gain season!

We all have challenges but on this day you can feel sorry for a man who is facing his frozen yogurt demons.

My MBA study buddy is getting fast

He's not quite a master competitor (age 34) but my MBA study buddy Aaron Ruffcorn is coming on strong in the marathon and ultra world.

Aaron and I powered through the Otterbein University MBA program in Ohio several years back.  We came upon some non-curricular fun times while participating in the study abroad program in Finland and Russia in 2005.  I moved on to U of FL and Aaron decided to call Milwaukee, Wisconsin, his home.

In addition to his work as an AFLAC sales agent and rock band entrepreneur, Aaron has worked to hone his running prowess.  He has completed the Ice Age Trail 50K and just today sent this get 'er done looking shot from the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon.  Aaron ran a PR of 3:12 at this event and for anyone who has run a marathon...that's serious business.

I enjoy the fact that life is quite linear, yet at times operates like a puzzle.  Good people like Aaron pop back up and plug into the mosaic of events and memories.

Congrats Aaron - I'll give yo…

Rob Apple and the ultimate finish: 600 ultras

My long time ultra friend Rob Apple knocked it out of the park.  He not only hit the cover of Ultrarunning Magazine (at right in Miwok 100K) but also wrapped up his 600th ultra at the Stump Jump 50K in Tennessee last weekend.

That's not a typo.  Six hundred ultras completed.

"It was nice to run  number 600 at Stump Jump, a course I enjoy," said Apple.  "And it was also great to have my own personal photographer, Susan (Donnelly) run every step of the 50K at my side!"

Apple states that 2011 has marked a milestone.  He made the cover of Ultrarunning - usually reserved for elites - and turned 50 while running in France earlier this year.

"I've been given the physical gift to be able to participate in a sport I truly love," said Apple.  "More importantly, I took advantage of the opportunities given and didn't waste precious time on other less useful endeavors.  I have taken care of my body over the past 30 years, managing the effect of long d…

Midwest Grand Slam of Ultrarunning set for 2012

The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning is now coming to a neighborhood near you.

According to, the original grand slam is "recognition for those who complete four of the oldest 100 mile trail runs in the U.S. The "Slam" consists of officially finishing the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, theVermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run all in the same year. The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning Award was established in 1986, when Tom Green was the first finisher."

A new Grand Slam has been developed incorporating some of the best events in the Midwest:

Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Endurance Run (Wisconsin)
Mohican Trail 100 Mile Run (Ohio)
Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run (Ohio)
Hallucination 100 Mile Run (Michigan)

Don't think I can get my arms around the mindset and effort needed to slam.  It's not for only the swift, but those who are most tenacious.  It's great to see the sport grow a…

God took my marble bag

It's a glorious day.  I'm home and showered after completing my Sunday-after-church mountain bike ride at Kerr Scott Dam.  I did the old standby:  Overmountain Trail inclusive of Shiner's Gap, then back for an 18 mile day.

But on this occasion, things were better than good. It was my first mountain bike ride in over two months and six weeks since I blew out my shoulder in a crash (the 10 minute test ride en route to blowing shoulder didn't count).  I started out slow and tenuous, uptight and nervous.  Didn't even clip in my left/plant foot for several miles. The woods at first intimidated, but then reverted to the welcoming environment I remember.  Most of the run off is dirt with lush leaves piled on top; that's a ton more forgiving than the rock piles at Rocky Knob in Boone.

I like to ride and daydream and the warm fall sunshine was conducive for that mission.  But daydreams turned to prayer, which turned to Thanksgiving.  And then God stopped by to visit. I&…